SEE what Goodnews Ibiezugbe, a 25 year old Economics student, does with Plantain
Youth unemployment in Nigeria is fast rising. While successive governments have adopted various policies to tackle this challenge and experts have proffered a plethora of solutions, including the introduction of compulsory Entrepreneurship courses in tertiary educational institutions, the indices have remained discouraging. A ThisDay report based on figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Nigeria revealed some 15.2 million Nigerian youths (out of a total youth labour force of 38.2 million) were either unemployed or underemployed in the first quarter of 2016. Also, according to Trading Economics, youth unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 24% in the second quarter of 2016 from 21.50% in the first quarter of that year.
Encouraging entrepreneurship among students of higher educational institutions in Nigeria and introducing entrepreneurship courses in school curricula may reduce unemployment among the youth population. However, it is noteworthy that some entrepreneurial Nigerian students are already proactive by starting commercial enterprises, even as undergraduates.
Outrepreneurs, in this new series, will showcase such Campuspreneurs (student entrepreneurs). Goodnews Ibiezugbe is an example.
Goodnews Ibiezugbe, a 25 year old, 300 level student of Economics at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State in Nigeria, is an enterprising young man. His venture, Maglacol, produces the Mags Plantain Flour brand, which can be found on the shelves of some shops and in markets, especially in the Northern and Western parts of Nigeria. He proceses unripe plantain to flour. Unripe plantain has been identified to be rich in iron, vitamin B complex, dietary fibre, thiamin and riboflavin and healthy for the young and old.
Ibiezugbe told Outrepreneurs he got motivated to start production of plantain flour, because he wanted to take an active part in feeding Nigeria and to make money. Curiously, he had been nursing the idea of producing plantain flour long before matriculating as a university student and the need to concentrate on academic studies did not hinder his dream.
Goodnews, who is an admirer of Ayoola Foods (a fast-growing Nigerian food processing firm), started producing Mags Plantain Flour barely seven months ago and says the product has achieved resounding success in the market. He says the product has no additives, but has long shelf life (exceeding one year), as long as the flour is not touched, but properly kept.
Goodnews comes from a humble background. His father was a teacher.
Asked why he chose to process plantain (rather than some other crop), Goodnews says the decision is deliberate, because of the nutritional value of plantain.
Goodnews believes he has just a few challenges to overcome, in order for him to reach his full potentials to mass-produce his brand of plantain flour. Such challenges, according to him, include funding, finding the time outside of academic activities to pay attention to the business and the dearth of raw materials (plantain).
Goodnews got his initial capital from family and friends.
Due to unreliable supply of raw materials, Ibiezugbe says there are lows and highs in production levels. During the plantain harvest season, for instance, he produces more than 100 packs of plantain flour per day, but this quantity reduces during non-harvest seasons of the year. He adds that scarcity (of raw materials) and the cost of plantain affects the price of his product.
Currently, Goodnews has only one employee, but says he plans to employ at least 10 more persons during the next plantain harvest season. He says he also plans to embark on the production of plantain bread very soon, using ripe plantain.
Asked who does his accounting and marketing communications, Goodnews says he currently does his accounting by himself and advertises through the social media.
He is inspired by God, Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates and any other person who has the heart to break barriers.
What is Goodnews Ibiezugbe’s advice to young people? He says: “There is nobody without ideas. The problem is to execute our ideas. If you have an idea, pursue it and don’t allow anybody to discourage you. Be focused and pray to God.”
Are there other Campuspreneurs out there (anywhere in Africa), whose efforts are worthy of emulation? Let’s celebrate them. Who is your favorite Campuspreneur? Let us know, now.
Cees Harmon10 Posts
Cees (pronounced Case) is on the editorial team at outrepreneurs.com. He has been in the field of journalism for 11 years and counting. He relishes Banga soup with fufu.